Hillary Clinton and the Citizens United decision

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court decided one of the most contentious cases of our era: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. By a vote split sharply along ideological lines (5-4, with Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito in favor; and liberals Stevens, Ginsberg, Sotomayor and Breyer dissenting), the Court decided that putting limits on corporations donating money to political campaigns—or doing their own political advertising—violated the First Amendment right of free speech.

The reasons why the liberals were against it was because the money of corporations could tilt the election process, favoring the elections of those candidates whose views favored corporations. That, in turn, could influence candidates (or politicians running for re-election) to adopt views congenial to corporations, and possibly vote in favor of bills that benefited the rich donors. That’s fundamentally anti-democratic, giving some people (or corporations, now construed as “people”) a disproportionate influence.

The Citizens United ruling (which I oppose, as I don’t think corporations are people, and believe that there should be spending limits), explicitly discussed the issue of whether this could corrupt the political system, or even create the appearance of corruptionand the majority opinion, written by Kennedy, said this:

While a single Bellotti footnote purported to leave the question open, 435 U. S., at 788, n. 26, this Court now concludes that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.

The court’s own decision along ideological lines was mirrored by the public. Conservatives, who of course favor corporate influence, liked the decision, while liberals (including President Obama and the New York Times) excoriated it, arguing that it would terminally corrupt our democratic government. The liberal view was that in a democracy, corporate spending, because of its potential to swing elections, could buy political influence. And clearly they think it can, for why else would corporations and bodies like the National Rifle Association donate money to politicians with consonant views? Now you can say that this is only meant to keep already-elected politicians with congenial views in power, but, donations are made well before election time, and to candidates who aren’t yet in power.

Indeed, Hillary Clinton herself  (along with Bernie Sanders) said that a “litmus test” for any proposed Supreme Court justice should be his/her opposition to the Citizens United decision.

So here’s my question. When I decried the Clinton Foundation’s taking of big sums of money from countries like Saudi Arabia, and corporations, and criticized Hillary’s enormous personal gains from making speeches to Wall Street bankers, I was told that there was no problem because it was never PROVEN that Hillary was corrupted or changed her views based on this money. (Remember, too, that many of us lauded Bernie Sanders for funding his candidacy with small donations just because this seemed more fair, more democratic).

I don’t get the fact that people who cried foul when the Citizens United decision came down are now saying there’s nothing wrong with both Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation taking money from corporations and foreign governments. Granted, funding an election isn’t identical to funding a charity, but in both cases there is the possibility of buying influence. Face it: did the Saudi donations of $10-$25 million to the Clinton Foundation come from a pure altruism on the part of that repressive government, or did they hope for some accommodation from the Clintons?

“Hope” is the operative word here. As we all know, it’s nearly impossible to prove that a donation influences a politician’s views, and they’ll always deny it. It is the possibility of that influence, the possibility of corruption by money, that the laws were meant to prevent—the laws overturned in the Citizens United decision. Liberals opposed that for this reason: what hope does the average and impecunious citizen have of influencing politicians, compared to the oil-rich Saudis or the Wall Street banks?

You might say that influencing an election is one thing, but influencing a future president by donating to her family’s Foundation is another, and the possibility of influence doesn’t exist in the latter case. I don’t agree, and that’s why I said that the Clinton Foundation should be a “blind charity”, or shut down, until no Clinton remains in political office. And no Clinton, including Chelsea, should be on the board of directors. It’s family, Jake!

I see it as hypocritical for liberals to disagree with the conservative court in the Citizens United decision (“no possibility of corruption or the appearance of corruption,” as they said), and yet use that same rationale to excuse Hillary Clinton’s personal gains from speeches to corporations, acquisition of corporate and foreign money to her family Foundation, and her shameless courting of Wall Street, which has now donated about $5 million to her candidacy. (Do you think they might be trying to buy influence?)

It’s almost impossible to detect corruption or influence peddling once it’s occurred, so we need to have laws and regulations to prevent the possibility of corruption. I am not saying Hillary Clinton has been corrupted or influenced by money. I don’t know that. And you don’t know otherwise. But she certainly has done very little to reduce the possibility of corruption in her case, which she could have done. But she has done little because she cares more about winning than about winning with a clean and ethical campaign. The other Democratic candidate, who felt differently, is now gone.


p.s. Need I say again that I’m voting for her and not for Trump? I just don’t want to write the usual tirades against the odious Donald, which you can read everywhere else on the liberal parts of the Internet. And besides, almost no readers of this site, as far as I know, like Trump, so what’s the point?



  1. Posted August 28, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Could it be Hilary is playing by the rules as they are, but liberals would like the rules changed?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

      That’s what Obama decided to do last election. His argument was that as the GOP was using super-pacs he would be at a disadvantage if he didn’t, and could lose the election. Would it be better for the country to stick to his principles and lose?

      Clinton has said she wants Citizens United reversed, and that has been a consistent position. Donald Trump, unbelievably, is no easy-beat. Should Clinton refuse big donors and risk Trump winning because she doesn’t have enough money to counter his campaign? I don’t know. But a moral victory won’t be much compensation for a Trump presidency.

      • Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        I doubt that her turning the Clnton Foundation into a blind trust, or not taking personal money from speeches to Goldman Sachs would cause her to lose the election! Those, at least, are two steps she could take to be more ethical. They’re already rich, so no need to get $700K per speech from bankers.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 28, 2016 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

          I think it would be a good idea to turn the Foundation into a blind trust in the meantime, but I have a different opinion about the speeches.

          This is quite long comment I’m sorry. It comes from a post I did in early July http://www.heatherhastie.com/the-honesty-of-hillary-clinton/:

          Although it might be interesting to read them, I don’t see any reason why Clinton should release her speeches. It was her job to make those speeches – it’s not really any different than anyone else releasing their trade secrets. And though she received huge amounts of money for making those speeches, apparently the figures aren’t actually unusual on the speaking circuit. Michael Arnovitz again:
          [T]he truth is that there is a large, well-established and extremely lucrative industry for speaking and appearance fees. And within that industry many celebrities, sports stars, business leaders and former politicians get paid very well. At her most popular for example, Paris Hilton was being paid as much as $750,000 just to make an appearance. Kylie Jenner was once paid over $100,000 to go to her own birthday party, and to this day Vanilla Ice gets $15,000 simply to show up with his hat turned sideways.
          And let’s talk about the more cerebral cousin of the appearance agreement, which is the speaking engagement. Is $200k really that unusual? In fact “All American Speakers”, the agency that represents Clinton, currently represents 135 people whose MINIMUM speaking fee is $200,000. Some of the luminaries that get paid this much include: Guy Fieri, Ang Lee, Cara Delevingne, Chelsea Handler, Elon Musk, Mehmet Oz, Michael Phelps, Nate Berkus, and “Larry the Cable Guy”. And no that last one is not a joke. And if you drop the speaking fee to $100k, the number of people they represent jumps to over 500. At $50,000 the number jumps to over 1,200. And All American Speakers are obviously not the only agency that represents speakers. So there are in fact thousands of people getting paid this kind of money to give a speech. …
          Hillary didn’t invent the speaking engagement industry, and she isn’t anywhere near the first person to make a lot of money from it. And while her fees are in the upper range of what speakers make, neither they nor the total amount of money she has made are unusual. It’s just unusual FOR A WOMAN.
          And yes, I’m back on that, because I feel compelled to point out that before he ran for President in 2007, Rudy Giuliani was making about $700,000 a month in speaking fees with an average of $270k per speech. It’s estimated that in the 5 years before his run he earned as much as $40 million in speaking fees. Nobody cared, no accusations of impropriety were made, and there was almost no media interest. So why did Giuliani get a pass, while Hillary stands accused of inherent corruption for making less money doing the same thing?
          And speaking of corruption, after leaving the Florida governor’s office Jeb Bush made millions of dollars in paid speeches. This includes large sums he collected from a South Korean metals company that reaped over a BILLION dollars in contracts from his brother’s presidential administration. Speaking to an Indian newspaper about this type of thing Bush said, “This is the life of being the brother of the president.” Do you remember reading all about that while Jeb was running for President? I didn’t think so. Jeb got a pass too.
          So if this discussion is really about money in politics that’s fine. But I’m going to need someone to explain to me why we only seem to focus on it when the person making the money has a vagina.
          Arnovitz goes on to point out that despite what is being said by her opponents, the majority of Clinton’s fees aren’t coming from Wall Street. She apparently gave almost one hundred paid speeches, only eight of which were to Wall Street banks. Also, only one of those eight made it into the top twenty in terms of how much she was paid. And while she is getting criticized for making speeches of US$225,000, Trump is getting US$1.5 million and no one is complaining about that. In addition, Trump made millions via so-called Trump University which the New York attorney general called a “straight-up fraud,” it looks like he may have bribed attorneys general in other states not to prosecute him over Trump University, and he gets to label Clinton “Crooked Hillary?”

          • Tim Harris
            Posted August 29, 2016 at 5:52 am | Permalink

            I thought this post of yours and the long one it came from excellent & fair, Heather.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted August 29, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

              Thank you very much. I appreciate it. 🙂

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted August 29, 2016 at 7:45 am | Permalink

            I’ve gotta disagree about the Goldman-Sachs speech transcripts. “Trade secrets” is a legal term-of-art — and there is nothing, nothing, in Hillary’s GS speeches that could conceivably qualify as a “trade secret.”

            If the transcripts put Hillary in a good light — if they showed her speaking truth to money — she’d’ve released them in a Chappaqua second. That she hasn’t, suggests one interpretation: something in those transcripts would hurt her — probably (putting it in the light most favorable to Hillary) her flattering the fat cats, and cutting jokes that would look pretty damn crass set in cold type.

            Maybe she can’t release the transcripts out of pure political expediency, so has to come up with, you know, “reasons.” But all this hemming and hawing, all this dissembling and dissimulating about those transcripts, is intelligence-insulting, and further undercuts Hillz’s tenuous credibility.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted August 29, 2016 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

              I agree that’s a reasonable assumption to make, and I suspect there are things that sound a lot better in context and could at the very least be twisted to show her in an unfavourable light.

              I still think the better idea politically is not to release them. There would be stories that put everything in the worst light possible and even if they could find nothing we’d still get headlines like ‘$1000 per sentence’ or something, which is unfair imo unless the same standard is applied to everyone, which it isn’t. More of the paid speeches she gave were inspirational ones to women’s and girls’ organisations, but they don’t get mentioned.

              I’m probably over-sensitive in this area, but I feel like there’s a double standard because she’s a woman. Most cannot conceive of any reason other than political favour that business people might want to hear her speak. (I’m not accusing anyone here of that. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype though. It was a theme of Bernie Sanders to say no one paid him to talk to Wall Street. However, it would have been illegal if they had because he’s a sitting senator.)

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted August 29, 2016 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

                More of the paid speeches she gave were inspirational ones to women’s and girls’ organisations …

                She holding out on the transcripts of those speeches too, to protect “trade secrets”?

                Hey, I agree with you, Heather, that Hillary gets held to an unfair standard. I’d just like to see her avoid the self-inflicted wounds. After 40 years of life in the public eye — and all the insincerity that that’s required (especially when you’re partners with Bill) — I just don’t know. I’m hopeful, though, that once she she’s got the oath of office under her belt, we’ll find her strong on her feet. 🙂

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted August 29, 2016 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

                Well, there’s no point in paying Hillary tens of thousands of dollars to come and speak to you if you can read the speech in the paper.

                I agree there are too many self-inflicted wounds as well. She should be better at avoiding those by now She’s not a natural politician, which makes her look worse instead of better. She tries too hard to get it right and so ends up getting it wrong.

                I do think she’ll be much better when it comes to doing the actual work – that’s where her strength lies.

          • Richard C
            Posted August 30, 2016 at 2:53 am | Permalink

            Awesome comment Heather, and I agree with everything you wrote. Well, except this:

            “I think it would be a good idea to turn the Foundation into a blind trust in the meantime”

            A blind trust is one where a politician’s assets are sold off and replaced with other secret assets of a similar value, so the politician doesn’t know who to favor to boost his own net worth. Surely you didn’t mean that for the Clinton Global Initiative, so I assume you just want to see it continue its current good work but with someone else administrating it.

            But who?

            It wouldn’t be the foundation it is without Bill Clinton’s personal passion for its projects, his incredible network of contacts, or ability to fundraise. He of course won’t be around forever, but he already set up a succession plan and it’s his daughter.

            Should all that be scuttled, and the whole shebang turned over to a stranger with no ties to him or his family? Perhaps a stock Wall Street administrator who’s only in it for the money? How long will thr Clinton Foundation keeps its A rating from Charity Watch, or its donation levels, if they did that?

            You can’t sever a successful foundation at the neck and still expect it to do the same level of work.

            And if their work fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS suffers as a result, people will literally die.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted August 30, 2016 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

              Good points. I’d like to think there’s some way that who donates to the foundation can be kept as separate knowledge. Whether or not there’s any impropriety, there is the appearance of conflict of interest which should be avoided as well. You’re right that that’s impractical or at least extremely difficult – I’ve commented in another post that it’s Bill’s charm that helps attracts the money. Also, those who criticize are never going to believe s/he doesn’t know – they’ll say donors just tell them personally or something.

              I also agree that people will die without the foundation. Many consider that hyperbole, but when you look at the amount of funding for certain things that the foundation is responsible for, it’s simply a statement of fact. It’s also why I don’t think the foundation should be shut down.

              Hillary will be president for four or eight years. There is the future to look to.

  2. Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    And the Hillaryites keep saying “But do you want Trump” even when I say I will be voting for her.

  3. peltonrandy
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:17 pm | Permalink


  4. Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    “You might say that influencing an election is one thing, but influencing a future president by donating to her family’s Foundation is another, and the possibility of influence doesn’t exist in the latter case.”

    Of course the possibility exists in the latter case (you can slip money under the table too), but it’s the entire point of the former. A corporation can donate to a candidate specifically because they know said candidate is sympathetic towards the legislation they would like to see passed, and make no bones about that being the reason for their donation. Buying influence in the latter sense however is illegal, and if proven can result in criminal charges. I see these as entirely separate issues.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good point I think. If your company favours the policies of one party over another it’s sensible to donate to that party in the hope they will win. That’s not the same as trying to buy influence.

      However, long-term it would, imo, be better to limit donation amounts to remove the appearance of a problem.

      • Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        If a party that would otherwise win finds itself in opposition because rich companies preferring the policies of the other party have made huge donations, I do see this as buying influence!

  5. Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I heart Jerry’s voice and reason and willingness to write about matters that go beyond virtue-signaling against Tr-mp.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted August 29, 2016 at 1:40 am | Permalink

      That really is a very silly remark. Do you honestly think that the trenchant and thoughtful criticisms that have been made of Trump and what he represents by such as Josh Marshall can be classed as ‘virtue-signalling’? But perhaps you would regard Adolf Busch’s criticisms of the Nazi Party and his refusal to perform in Germany so long as it held power as ‘virtue-signalling’. I often wonder about the propensity of the American media, and not only the media, to play the game of ‘he said, but on the other hand she said’ as if it doesn’t matter what is actually being said or proposed. Given the extraordinary part played by money in American elections, the vilification of the Clintons over decades, and the criticisms that have been made of the AP’S ‘expose’ (with an acute accent on that last ‘e’), a better target, if one wants to criticise H. Clinton would surely be her aggressive ideas about foreign policy, which, just as George W. Bush’s have done in Iraq, have created dangerous chaos in Libya and yet another breeding ground of Islamic terrorism.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted August 29, 2016 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        And the other thing that remark of yours betrays, Charleen, is the ready cynicism that supposes almost automatically that any disagreement springs not from a principled position or from having given thought to something, but from some sort of craven desire to show that one belongs to the right sort of people. I honestly think that such undiscriminating cynicism (which pervades the media) is dangerous.

  6. jeffery
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    My stance is, “I’m not voting for Hillary; I’m voting AGAINST Trump.” It makes it easier to swallow….

    • Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Natural selection is also best understood as “acting against” rather than as “acting for”.

  7. Stephen Barnard
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see anything at all wrong with Hillary Clinton’s relationship to the Clinton Foundation. It’s all smoke and no fire. It’s no surprise that many people who donated to the Foundation have legitimate business with the State Department. If a quid pro quo is proven that’s different, but so far it hasn’t been. And even if it were proven, the psychopath Trump cannot become President. The Clinton Foundation is an excellent charity with an outstanding track record and an A rating from Charity Watch. It will be a shame if their activities are curtailed when Clinton is elected.

    • Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

      Who said their activities would be curtailed if the Clinton family gets off the board and has no influence until they’re no longer in politics? They can hire somebody to run it, and it’s clearly unethical for Hillary, or Bill to solicit donations while Hillary is President.

      Or do you favor her and Bill staying on the board and continuing to solicit donations from corporations and the Saudis? If not, why not?

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        “Who said their activities would be curtailed…”

        The articles I read said that if Clinton wins, the foundation would stop accepting foreign money. I think that can be interpreted as their activities being curtailed.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          So only favors for Americans, no foreigner allowed. Very impressive.

      • mordacious1
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        1. You stated, “I don’t agree, and that’s why I said that the Clinton Foundation should be a “blind charity”, or shut down, until no Clinton remains in political office.

        That’s seems pretty drastic and certainly shutting it down would curtail its activities.

        2. If Chelsea steps down from the board of directors, it would have to be voluntarily. The government cannot make her step down off the board, it would be a violation of her constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.

        3. Any restrictions on what the adult children of US office holders/candidates can or cannot do is going beyond the obligations of office holders. Maybe Ron Reagan would have wanted to be on the board of the FFRF just to stick ol’ Ronnie in the eye. That would certainly be his right. Many kids of office holders become politically involved and/or raise funds for candidates or organizations. Should all of this be restricted? Should there be a state committee to review what they’re allowed to do or not do?

      • Stephen Barnard
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        I don’t favor it or not favor it. I just hope the Foundation continues it’s good work.

        • Stephen Barnard
          Posted August 28, 2016 at 10:10 pm | Permalink


  8. cherrybombsim
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    It is a charity, right? Maybe they could, umm, just give the money away.

    • Posted August 28, 2016 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      cherrybombsim wrote:

      It is a charity, right? Maybe they could, umm, just give the money away.

      The Clinton Foundation is an example of a private operating foundation. This means this charitable organization ” … use the bulk of their income to provide charitable services or to run charitable programs of their own … They make few, if any, grants to outside organizations” (according to Wikipedia’s definition of a private operating foundation).

      • mordacious1
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

        If they build, say, a water treatment facility in a third world country, they’re still essentially giving the money away. I don’t see what the big focus is on grants. Every time money is shifted from one charity to another, some of it it siphoned off…and not in a good way. Direct funding of projects is a more efficient way of getting money to where it is needed.

  9. mcirvin14
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I think that another possibility has to be considered regarding the question of “did the Saudi donations of $10-$25 million to the Clinton Foundation come from a pure altruism on the part of that repressive government, or did they hope for some accommodation from the Clintons?” Even if quid pro quo was the aim, it’s also a PR scheme. The Saudis do it, as do the foundations of most of the other Gulf States. They engage in the classic Yojimbo – playing both sides – game, assuaging the West with their philanthropy but funding their fundamentalist brand of Islam throughout the world as well. The money is both a smokescreen and a lever. Put too much pressure on the Saudis and they’ll pull their investments in things Westerners care about etc.

    Also, Justice Kennedy’s Citizens United quote about corruption is laughable – well before that ruling, the NRA has been able to put the screws on enough members of Congress to basically make it impossible to even study the effects of a society awash in guns. The same goes for agribusiness and the environment, Big Tobacco did it for as long as they could, and Big Pharma is getting exposed for it quite frequently these days. Citizens united just served to legitimize what has been going on all along.

    So, yes the CGI/Clinton Foundation opens Hillary up to accusations of pay-to-play although it appears that there’s precious little evidence to prove any impropriety. However, it’s hard to take Justice Kennedy’s refusal to see even the “appearance of corruption” seriously when the Clinton’s activities could easily satisfy that low bar.

  10. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    It is just a little interesting to note that while there is nothing good or correct about Citizen’s United and the money trough we call Washington DC, how upset one gets over this case or over Hilary’s behavior, mostly is divided by which side of politics you are on. The republicans think the treatment of corporations as people is just fine and at the same time think Hilary is the most evil person on the planet with the foundation. Democrats tend to be exactly the opposite.

    We also still like to throw around the term democracy as if this is what we have, so really, everyone is in a delusion. America is much more oligarchy in real description. With more than 12,000 Lobbyists in DC now, to think that Congress is in control and calling the shots for the people they represent, please spare the thought. Lobby does not only control the congress, it controls most of the rest of the government as well. Many of the people working for the president, working at treasury and all over, come and go from the lobby firms. It is a very parasitic relationship.

    I would recommend a book that came out around 2009, and this book was primarily about one of the big time lobbyists – Gerald Cassidy. The book was by Robert G Kaiser, So Damn Much Money, the triumph of lobbying and the corrosion of America. It will help you to catch the real flavor of politics in the U.S.

  11. Posted August 28, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Corruption has been imbedded in our so-called Democracy from the very beginning and seems only to be getting worse, not only at the federal level, but at all levels of government. Read our history, please. Within the last forty years or so, enormous amounts of money have been spent by privileged individuals and organizations to skew federal, state, and local governments, and judgeships. With that, and the money devoted to gerrymandering and restricting voting rights, our governmental process does not reflect the will of the people; only certain people.

  12. Steve Kern
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Is it not a contradiction for people who support Citizens United to object to the Clinton’s Foundation?

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      I would say there is no difference between the appearance of both. They are both about the appearance of money getting access to power.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Not necessarily, but in may cases yes.

      For example, they could be OK with corporate influence, but not OK with accepting foreign contributions.

      However, hypocrisy in conservatives is so common that it would not surprise me in the least if many conservatives have contradictory positions on this.

  13. Stan
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Jerry all the way on this one. Hillary never met a dollar she didn’t like. I’m voting for her because I just don’t have any other choice.

    • Posted August 28, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      It’s sad that our nation’s first woman president will have such a hollow victory and serve under such a dark cloud. She probably won’t be able to accomplish much.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

        As far as clouds go, I would say with no hesitation that the Trump cloud is far darker than a Hilary card. If you are in search of what Diogenes was looking for, you won’t find it anywhere in politics.

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        That reminds of of the old joke,
        Q) What do they call the person who finished dead last in his medical school graduating class?
        A) Doctor.

        If Hillary doesn’t accomplish much, it will probably be due to opposition from republicans in congress, not because of anything to do with the Clinton Foundation

        • Historian
          Posted August 28, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

          Yes, it is totally unrealistic to expect Hillary to accomplish anything of substance during her presidency. As they did with Obama, the Republicans will block significant legislation through control of the House and the filibuster in the Senate. But, at least Hillary will be able to prevent things from getting worse (in terms of legislation). During her four years, you can expect Ted Cruz to be planning his 2020 run. In other words, a Hillary victor will means she is putting her finger in the dike. Unfortunately, the dike can break at any moment.

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted August 28, 2016 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

            You are far too pessimistic. Every year more old white guys die off. More young people, more minorities – the future for the republicans and the likes of Cruz are not good.

  14. William Bill Fish
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    It that ‘s been done before. George W. was President many donors wanting access to the President made donations the George H. W. Bush Foundation. They were secret donations.At least the Clinton Foundation is somewhat transparent.

    It all stinks! The rich have influence. Example:”…big donor, Dallas oilman and major SMU supporter Edwin L. Cox, had his son pardoned by former President George H.W. Bush.”


    • Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      Does every clan with a sense of entitlement to rule America have a foundation? Show the door to them all! Well, maybe not exactly now…

      • mordacious1
        Posted August 28, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Even I have a foundation.
        It holds up my house.

  15. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I agree as to the hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle on this matter (and made the same point in a comment to your 8/21/16 post on this topic). The dangers of influence pedaling created by the two situations are precisely isomorphic.

    The deleterious of effect of the torrent of campaign cash unleashed by Citizens United hasn’t been its direct impact on the outcome of US elections — both major parties can extract too much dough from their donors to let one side outgun the other. Instead, it’s been that, since neither side can risk unilateral financial disarmament, officeholders are trapped in a cycle of raising huge sums from their donor base — and, even worse, of depending upon so-called “independent” 501(c) super-PACs for support. In exchange for their big bucks, donors expect at least to have ready access to the officeholders and their staffs. Such access, combined with officeholders’ unceasing need to replenish their coffers for the next campaign, leave them vulnerable to myriad forms of manipulation by big donors, some subtle, some not so.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

      That’s influence “peddling,” of course … sheesh, Ken!

  16. Posted August 28, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

    Two points:
    1- Politicians always find creative ways to trade favors for money and personal gains. A single law (or its abrogation) can not reverse this trend.

    2- Corporations are deemed as people just for specific purposes of law. If corporations were not people, no one could really sue them for wrongdoing. Also, the government could violate rights of people under the cover of investigating or cracking down on corporations.

    Both points are more clearly argued in the following videos:

    • jay
      Posted August 29, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Suppose a couple of friends cooperate to advocate a position or candidate, maybe 10 friends, maybe 500… does that change their free speech rights?

      Under all the vitriol, Citizens United basically said that people don’t lose their speech rights when they organize into a group. Unfortunately McCain Feingold stepped into the free speech area.

      The thing I find odd about the opposition to Citizens is that corporations (publishers etc) have long exercised free speech. Even the term freedom of the press at the time the Constitution was written generally referred to publishers run as a business… even then ‘the press’ was rarely a single individual printing at his own cost.

      • Posted August 30, 2016 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

        Corporations are artificial legal entities created for a specific purpose. That purpose does not include influencing campaigns and elections. The 500 friends are still free to use their individual money to donate to candidates, etc.

        • Posted August 31, 2016 at 2:50 am | Permalink

          But the fact remains that a corporation is a much more efficient way for achieving a goal. It is not just about money. Those 500 people want to do collective work to promote their candidate.

          And what you suggest does not solve anything. Let’s say 500 people donated enough money with the idea to spend that money to make a film against Clinton. Who would build the film then? Right, Another corporation!

          There is simply no feasible “fair” system regarding campaign advertising. In Iran, where radio and TV are fully controlled by the state, the presidential candidates are given equal times to express their views. The total amount of time is calculated meticulously and is transparent. Sounds good? Not really, because the “favorite” candidate gets news coverage, interviews, invitations from other TV shows, etc.

          Some say Sanders’ campaigning is more democratic since he got had a lot of small donations. Again, this is not “fair” either. That system will only promote politicians with higher power of persuasion and not necessarily the ones with better policies (Remember Trump also won the primary without big backers).

          In general, the right way to go is to decrease the power office holders can exert on others not to give them extra powers to “make things right”!

    Posted August 28, 2016 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    There is a quote from Bob Barnett,George W. Bush’s political mentor from Texas: “If you can’t take their money, eat their food, drink their liquor,and screw their women and still vote against them, son, you don’t belong in politics” So, thus, taking a contribution doesn’t automatically mean corruption and smart people know that contributing to both sides makes sense. The big problem with Citizens United is that it defines money as speech, allows some people to speak much more loudly than others and allows the “speakers” to remain anonymous, something that does not apply to charitable contributions.

    • Mike Savage
      Posted August 28, 2016 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Actually the quote is originally from Jesse Unruh, the long time uberpowerful kingmaker and leader of the Democrats in the California legislature. He was a real piece of work.

      BTW, ironically the Citizens’ United case concerned whether a certain corporation could air a film which was critical of…Hillary Clinton.
      “Hillary: The Movie”.

  18. Larry Moran
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    In 2008 Obama could do no wrong.

    In 2016 Hillary Clinton can do no right.

    Neither position is rational.

  19. Richard C
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    There is a world of difference between the two, though it’s made complicated by the fact that she’s married to a former President.

    President Bill Clinton is doing what I wish more former presidents did, run a large charitable foundation with his family and quite a bit if bipartisan support. And it does a lot of good.

    Citizens United is about corporations spending unlimited money running political TV ads to directly influence our elections. The Clinton Foundation does not run any political ads, they fund programs like AIDS clinics in the developing world. So it is not the same thing.

    Hillary Clinton is in a strange position as the spouse of a very high-profile former President. That surely gives her some advantages and allows people to tie her to Bill Clinton’s activities like his charity. But I do not believe he should have stopped doing what good he could just because his wife got a job working for President Obama.

    Of course, if a tit for tat could be shown that would change things.

  20. keith cook +/-
    Posted August 28, 2016 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    I agree ‘Trumped’ is a dangerous bore and Clinton might or could be in line for a possible impeachment if she gets to be top d***.. eh, cat and continues being dodgy, that would be fun.
    You have to admit she is behaving a bit like a feline.. seemingly showing little regard for all the misogynist and pro Wall St, etc negative PR.
    All those reporters worth their word processor and TV face will be licking their collective lips at the thought of her spilling her milk , as or if she flies to close to the wind.
    I get this feeling bloggers, Fox, Clinton haters will be sniffing every seat she ever sits on, hound her to her political death if they can, especially when it is know she’s is not the sparkling innocent to start with, as in, a few flies have already settled on her.
    Which means if Clinton is as an astute women as some claim, she will or should be very careful how she conducts her Presidency (if successful)…then again maybe not, the sad part for women in US politics, the howls from the anti women ‘anything’ brigade will go on for years if she fails and Trumped get’s to say.. I told you so.

  21. Posted August 29, 2016 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Bernie Sanders didn’t seem to have any problem with getting a little help from the NRA and voting against gun regulation bills. None of them are clean, because if you’re clean, you lose. But as someone said earlier, at this moment in time, attacking Clinton is equivalent to promoting Trump. I think the focus now should be getting Clinton elected in a massive landslide and making it very clear to other politicians that Trump’s strategy is a massive loser. The only thing worse than Trump winning, would be a close election and future Trumps popping up running on nationalist, racist, positions all over the country. This needs to be a landslide win for Clinton.

    • Posted August 29, 2016 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Sorry, I didn’t mean a close Clinton win would be worse than Trump winning, I meant it would be the second worst outcome. I need more coffee.

  22. Mike
    Posted August 29, 2016 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Money doesn’t corrupt Politicians, whatever gave you that idea.?

  23. JJH
    Posted August 29, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    A disagreement and an agreement.

    “I don’t get the fact that people who cried foul when the Citizens United decision came down are now saying there’s nothing wrong with both Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation taking money from corporations and foreign governments.” I disagree. You have to play the game under the rules the way they are. Making a stand for principle that costs you the election and results in a much worse candidate getting into office, I would consider a moral failure.

    “Need I say again that I’m voting for her and not for Trump?” Here I concur. To paraphrase a comic book, “She’s not the candidate we deserve, but she is the one we need.”

  24. Posted August 29, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    How can you even draw a parallel here? The money “donated” by corporations to a politician does not provide a benefit. The Clinton Foundation has saved over 11 million lives with HIV and malarial drugs, provided education for poor people and more. The Clinton Foundation also has an exemplary reputation and grade from CharityWatch.org and other such organizations. Jerry, if you had a beautiful TA who also helped you write a paper and her name appeared on the publication, would I be justified in assuming she gave you sexual favors for her name appearing on said paper? Assumptions are not facts and most people use their INTEGRITY to steer them away from improprieties. Get some actual facts about the Clinton Foundation doing bad things, or stop trashing it.

  25. Hibiscus
    Posted August 29, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Related and well worth reading:


  26. Posted August 29, 2016 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    The AP article was not accurate and was sloppy journalism.


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